If you, like me, have been beseiged by Instagrams of dishes at Momofuku Nishi but haven't gotten your act together to actually secure a reservation, there are now six more hours in the week that you can attempt to do so. Starting today, Nishi is serving weekend brunch from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m., serving dishes such as the 'gram-worthy Ceci e Pepi (now topped with a fried egg!), avocado and egg sandwiches with smoked trout roe and shichi-mi tōgarashi, and fried whole shrimp with salt and sansho pepper.
A photo posted by Rebecca Palkovics (@bexxopolis) on
That's not the only change in place at the restaurant as of today: Nishi is also getting rid of its no-tipping policy, which means some menu prices might dip (or, in the restaurant's words, become more "flexible"). Nishi opened without tipping in January, following in the footsteps of restaurateurs like Danny Meyer and Andrew Tarlow, the logic being, in David Chang's words, that "we want to be able to grow as a company so we can provide for more people. This is a way we might be able to do that. And if it doesn't work, we can always go back to the old way."
Indeed, it seems that policy hasn't worked out as well as Chang hoped—but the restaurant assured customers on its blog that its chefs will continued to be paid the same wages they have been all along.
"We started this experiment to pay our cooks a wage we believe in," the team wrote. "Cooks will maintain the same wages moving forward as they did with the no-tipping model. This is by no means the end of the no-tipping discussion at Momofuku. But at this moment, we think a tipping model will benefit our guests and staff."
As Eater points out, Nishi isn't alone in abandoning the no-tipping model: the West Village supper club Fedora tried and ditched a gratuity-free service program, and Babu Ji in Alphabet City had a brief flirtation with the tip-free life before reverting to the old way of doing things.
Speaking at the time of the restaurant's opening, Chang defended the restaurant's prices, criticizing the idea that Asian food has to be cheap: "All the ingredients that we're getting are top quality, and just as expensive as any other restaurant," he said. "We're replacing the parmesan with our own fermented chickpea paste that took us six to nine months to make. So fuck you guys. I'm not getting on the phone and ordering a wheel of parmesan. Don't tell me that I can't charge like Italian food."